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‘They’re everything I am’: DACA recipients fear deportation for parents

A supporter holds up a placard during a rally for Jeanette Vizguerra, a Mexican woman seeking to avoid deportation from the United States, outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, in Centennial, Colo. U.S. immigration authorities have denied Vizguerra's request to remain in the country. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

PHOENIX — Recipients of a program that offers protection from deportation and work permits are speaking out about what it’s like to live in the United States under a Donald Trump presidency.

Ezequiel Santos, who came to the U.S. when he was 2 years old, is one of the more than 27,000 undocumented young immigrants in Arizona who’ve been approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a federal program that allows young immigrants who entered the country as children to stay and work. He said thanks to the DACA program, he has been able to work and attend a local community college.

“It’s something I’m very proud of,” he said about attending classes. “I’ve been trying to take advantage of DACA to the fullest.”

Though he’s protected from deportation, Santos said he feels uneasy to know many undocumented immigrants, including his parents, are still at risk of deportation. This comes at a time when Trump has expanded the list of undocumented immigrants who are priority for deportation.

Vasthy Lamadrid, a student at Arizona State University, is another DACA recipient from Arizona. She’s protected from deportation, but her parents, who’ve been in the U.S. for more than a decade, are not. She said it worries her to know they could be deported.

“My parents are the reason I’m here,” she said. “They’re everything I am and without my parents, then I am pretty much nothing. They are my family. They are who I love.”

Though Trump has said he’s not getting rid of the DACA program right now, he wants to continue to ramp up deportations of undocumented immigrants.

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